Plan to reverse European Court Rwanda rulingson June 21, 2022 at 9:44 pm

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Ministers could ignore the European Court of Human Rights asylum-seekers injunction, under proposals.

A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near SalisburyImage source, PA Media which is believed to be the plane set to

The European Court of Human Rights block on sending asylum seekers to Rwanda could be overturned by ministers under new proposals.

The plan, being introduced to Parliament, would allow ministers to ignore the court’s injunctions.

It is part of changes to the Human Rights Act, introducing what ministers say will be tougher legal tests.

Critics say the proposals are confusing and would create two tiers of rights that hand more power to ministers.

But Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said his proposed Bill of Rights fixed problems with the Human Rights Act without abandoning it altogether.

Unveiling the plans, Mr Raab confirmed the government would not quit the European Convention on Human Rights, a set of legal safeguards allowing ordinary people to challenge what they say is unfair treatment by the government.

The Bill of Rights also includes measures proposed last year:

  • a promise to clarify the law for judges so they place British laws above European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings
  • a plan to screen out some human-rights claims against the government or other public bodies, by requiring people to prove at the earliest possible stage they have suffered a significant disadvantage
  • a limit on what courts can order public bodies to do to correct a problem caused by a breach of human rights
  • changes to the interpretation of the right to family life ministers believe will mean more foreign-born offenders can be deported even if they have children in the UK.

The most significant new proposal – to ignore ECHR injunctions – follows last week’s row over the Home Office’s abandoned flight to Rwanda.

The Strasbourg court, which is nothing to do with the European Union, issued an injunction blocking the home secretary from putting an asylum seeker on the flight, despite earlier decisions by judges in London not to intervene.

Judges at European Court of Human Rights during 2017 ruling

Image source, Getty Images

That decision triggered other appeals and ultimately the cancellation of the flight.

Under the government’s proposed Bill of Rights, ministers would be able to ignore future such injunctions, known as Rule 39 orders, because they are not technically part of international law.

Mr Raab, who is responsible for changes to constitutional laws, said: “The Bill of Rights will strengthen our UK tradition of freedom, whilst injecting a healthy dose of common sense into the system.

“We will be very clear in domestic law that Rule 39 interim orders do not bind UK courts or indeed public bodies or officials.”

‘Collision course’

The government’s proposals – unveiled in December – have been criticised by lawyers in the field as confusing and arguably unnecessary because British courts can already ignore rulings from Strasbourg.

Law Society president I Stephanie Boyce, who represents solicitors, said the package was on a collision course with the rest of the law.

“The bill will create an acceptable class of human-rights abuses in the United Kingdom,” she said.

“It is a lurch backwards for British justice. Authorities may begin to consider some rights violations as acceptable, because these could no longer be challenged under the Bill of Rights despite being against the law.

“Overall, the bill would grant the state greater unfettered power over the people, power which would then belong to all future governments, whatever their ideologies.”

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